Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

The smoking gun: Fish brains and nicotine

Date:
December 9, 2013
Source:
Carnegie Institution
Summary:
In researching neural pathways, it helps to establish an analogous relationship between a region of the human brain and the brains of more-easily studied animal species. New work hones in on one particular region of the zebrafish brain that could help us understand the circuitry underlying nicotine addiction.

Upper panel shows fluorescently labeled neural projections in a larval zebrafish from the habenular nuclei in the forebrain to the interpeduncular nucleus in the midbrain, a pathway known to be involved in nicotine addiction. The lower panels demonstrate neural activity (black cells) in cross sections of brains following exposure of adult zebrafish to control water (left) or to water containing nicotine (right).
Credit: Images courtesy of Courtney Akitake and Elim Hong

In researching neural pathways, it helps to establish an analogous relationship between a region of the human brain and the brains of more-easily studied animal species. New work from a team led by Carnegie's Marnie Halpern hones in on one particular region of the zebrafish brain that could help us understand the circuitry underlying nicotine addiction. It is published the week of December 9 by Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Related Articles


The mammalian habenular nuclei, in a little-understood and difficult-to-access part of the brain, are involved in regulating both dopamine and serotonin, two neurotransmitters involved in motor control, mood, learning, and addiction. But unlike the mammalian habenulae, the habenular nuclei of fish are located dorsally, making them easy for scientists to access and study. However, some outstanding questions remained about the properties of the zebrafish habenulae, creating a roadblock for truly linking these structures as analogous in fish and humans. In particular, it was unresolved whether zebrafish habenular neurons produce the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which is enriched in this region of the mammalian brain and activates the same receptors to which nicotine is known to bind.

The new work by lead author Elim Hong and colleagues confirms that not only does the link between the habenula to the midbrain interpenduncular nucleus utilize acetylcholine in zebrafish, as in humans, but the pathway shows a remarkable left-right difference in the fish brain.

The purpose of this asymmetry is unknown, but, as demonstrated by electrophysiological recordings with collaborator Jean-Marie Mangin of the University of Pierre and Marie Curie, it results in differences in neural activity between the brain hemispheres. Other research in Halpern's lab indicates that such left-right differences could influence behavior. Hong performed these experiments through a European Molecular Biology Organization Short-Term Fellowship while hosted in the laboratory of Claire Wyart in Paris, France.

The team further showed that this acetylcholine pathway in zebrafish responds in a similar way to nicotine as does the analagous pathway in the mammalian brain. This makes the zebrafish a good model for studying the brain chemistry of nicotine addiction.

"Our work demonstrates broader uses for zebrafish in studying the function of the habenula and addresses a major weakness in the field, which was the poor characterization of neurotransmitter identity in this area," said Hong. "Going forward, these results will help us study how brain circuitry influences nicotine addiction."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Carnegie Institution. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. E. Hong, K. Santhakumar, C. A. Akitake, S. J. Ahn, C. Thisse, B. Thisse, C. Wyart, J.-M. Mangin, M. E. Halpern. Cholinergic left-right asymmetry in the habenulo-interpeduncular pathway. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2013; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1319566110

Cite This Page:

Carnegie Institution. "The smoking gun: Fish brains and nicotine." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 December 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131209152303.htm>.
Carnegie Institution. (2013, December 9). The smoking gun: Fish brains and nicotine. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131209152303.htm
Carnegie Institution. "The smoking gun: Fish brains and nicotine." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131209152303.htm (accessed December 20, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) In Yarumal, a village in N. Colombia, Alzheimer's has ravaged a disproportionately large number of families. A genetic "curse" that may pave the way for research on how to treat the disease that claims a new victim every four seconds. Duration: 02:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Double-Amputee Becomes First To Move Two Prosthetic Arms With His Mind

Double-Amputee Becomes First To Move Two Prosthetic Arms With His Mind

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) A double-amputee makes history by becoming the first person to wear and operate two prosthetic arms using only his mind. Jen Markham has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Prenatal Exposure To Pollution Might Increase Autism Risk

Prenatal Exposure To Pollution Might Increase Autism Risk

Newsy (Dec. 18, 2014) Harvard researchers found children whose mothers were exposed to high pollution levels in the third trimester were twice as likely to develop autism. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Yoga Could Be As Beneficial For The Heart As Walking, Biking

Yoga Could Be As Beneficial For The Heart As Walking, Biking

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) Yoga can help your weight, blood pressure, cholesterol and heart just as much as biking and walking does, a new study suggests. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins